Book it to a new SFO

How interests impact faith

This semester, Malone is offering an SFO where students talk about the Christian themes they find in literature through the Book Lovers SFO. However, the Book Lovers life group represents more than simply the integration of faith and literature. It offers a deeper look at the things people enjoy and how that impacts their faith and who they are.

Randi Pahlau, professor of English language and literature, is responsible for the creation of the SFO.

“Everything that we encounter in life whether we read it, hear it or see it affects our spiritual life whether we notice or not,” said Pahlau.

Pahlau wanted to create a SFO that English majors and minors would enjoy. She brought up the idea to some of her students and was encouraged by their enthusiasm to pursue the SFO.

Each week the Book Lovers group discusses some of the theological themes found in the book for that week. They open with prayer and then a student who has read the book summarizes it in order to make sure that everyone can engage with the material.

So far the group has discussed “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “Frankenstein,” and “The Great Gatsby.” Future discussions may include “Les Miserables,” “The Jungle Book,” “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” or “Pride and Prejudice.”

Pahlau especially found the conversation about “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” to be interesting. As a group students thought about the connections between the White Witch, the source of trouble in the book, and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Frankenstein” also brought up a conversation about ethics.  

Devin Stuart, junior computer science major, was very excited about the SFO opportunity when he first heard about it.

Devin Stuart, junior computer science major, reading Great Gatsby, which is the next book that will be discussed in the Book Lovers SFO (Photo by Kelsey Garrett)
Devin Stuart, junior computer science major, reading Great Gatsby, which is the next book that will be discussed in the Book Lovers SFO (Photo by Kelsey Garrett)

“Books and Jesus are two passions in my life, so having them combined was a dream come true,” said Stuart.

While faith should be integrated into every aspect of a person’s life, books are of significant importance as they describe and reflect much of modern culture.

Nonetheless, more people seemed to be engaged with media forms like Netflix, Facebook and YouTube instead of books. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, the way people engage with media is different now than in the past.

People do not often think about how they are affected by what media forms they interact with. Stuart believes that people are more interested in short term enjoyment instead of the long term benefits of analyzing the effects of their interests.

Christina Stump, senior music major, has found that her interests have very much influenced who she is as a person. One book that has impacted her is “Crime and Punishment.” After reading the book Stump recognized Christian themes even though it was not written from a Christian standpoint.

The book taught her that sin is wrong not just because it hurts people but because it puts people in the wrong sort of relationship with God, others and themselves.

The impact of stories is not limited to just books.

“We’re going to engage with stories. We’re creatures of story, we tell stories and we live through stories,” Stump said. “It’s not something that is exclusive to written form because stories are stories whether we tell them orally or we tell them through literature or we tell them in film.”

Stump wants to encourage students to attend the SFO and also to take the time to engage in conversation about the impact of their interests. The Book Lovers SFO takes place on Tuesday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. in Johnson Center 206.

Monica Hershberger is a staff writer for The Aviso

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